Toddler gun play attracting national attention

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

While many folks in Holland feel they don’t get enough attention from the city, they are getting plenty from the rest of the country today in the wake of the incident last week in which a toddler was videotaped playing with a firearm.

The Today Show and MSNBC were among the national media airing the video on Tuesday.

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Robert James Allen, 43, and Joni Maxine Allen, 42, were arrested late Thursday at their residence in 1300 block of Glen Haven Drive after a neighbor shot video of their 3-year-old son playing with a gun and called police. Each was charged with one count of felony child neglect.

The grainy footage that aired on MSNBC Tuesday showed the toddler leaning against the trunk of an automobile playing with the handgun. The reporter said the Allens were practicing shooting at a firing range when the video was shot.

City Communications Director Dennis Craff said Tuesday that he had been fielding inquiries from several major media outlets, including ABC, NBC and the British Broadcasting Network.

&uot;It’s my understanding it hasn’t shown up on Oprah yet,&uot; Craff said.

Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department, said the department did not release the footage and that media outlets apparently got it from the person who shot it.

The Allens were released from jail Friday morning on $2,000 bond each. George said no other charges are pending.